Buckle up, East Coasters. It’s about to get ugly. Starting on Friday and stretching into this weekend, a stretch from Virginia to Maine could see snow — and lots of it.
A bomb cyclone could bring as much as 2 feet (61 centimeters) in some places. In addition, the East Coast will be pounded by dangerous storm surge and buffeted by high winds that will stir up whiteout conditions and could leave people without power up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
When Does the Nor’easter Actually Start?
In some places, it already has. Snow is lighting falling in parts of New York City as a precursor to the nor’easter really getting underway. Over the course of Friday, the system will emerge over the Atlantic and start to wrap around a cold core. That’s when things will get serious.
The behemoth of a storm will take on a classic nor’easter comma shape, and pressure at its centre will rapidly drop. Bombogenesis is the term for when a storm’s pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, and this storm will absolutely do that as it moves north.
The East Coast will see increasing snow and wind as the storm slides off the Carolina cost on Friday evening. Early Saturday morning is when things will get more serious, as the storm intensifies over the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia. Snow could start falling at a rate of 1 to 4 inches (3 to 10 centimeters) per hour on Saturday over parts of New England. While the snow should be all done by Saturday evening in the southern parts of the East Coast, northern parts of New England could see snow into Sunday.
How Much Snow Will Fall?
Depending on where you are, potentially a lot. The eastern edge of Massachusetts could see as much as 24 inches (61 centimeters) of snow. Boston is squarely in that snow bullseye.
Much of eastern New England from Connecticut to Maine could see up to a foot (31 centimeters) of snow as could New York City. The city itself is basically still on the knife’s edge, though, between major and moderate snowfall. Small changes in the storm’s path — as minuscule as a 25-mile (40-kilometre) shift to the west — could make a measurable difference.
Models have gradually shifted the storm’s track a little westward, indicating higher totals, though. A more westard track would also mean inland areas would be liable to see higher snowfall totals as well. Winter storm warnings and watches extend as far west as the Berkshires, where more than a foot could end up falling depending on the storm’s exact track. Even some cities farther south could see some snow accumulate: Hampton Roads in Virginia could see between 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters).
Snow Is Only One Hazard
In addition to the white stuff, the bomb cycleon will also bring intense winds that will blow as high as 70 mph (113 kmh) in parts of southern New England along the coast. The high winds and heavy rates of snowfall have also led the National Weather Service to issue blizzard warnings from Long Island to the Cape.
“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the agency warned. “The hazardous conditions could impact the evening commute. Strong winds could cause tree damage.”
Bitter wind chills will also be a factor on Saturday morning, including in inland areas that may not see as much snow. The National Weather Service is expecting some parts of the Hudson River Valley and interior Pennsylvania to have wind chill values as low as minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-29 degrees Celsius), conditions that could cause frostbite in as little as 15 minutes.
The coast of New England should also buckle up for some very rough seas. Parts of the coast from Rhode Island up through Maine could see 1 to 3 feet (31 to 91 centimeters) of storm surge, with waves as high as 25 feet (8 meters). The timing couldn’t be worse. The storm will hit some areas at high tide on top of it being astronomical high tide. That could be a recipe for dangerous flooding as well as possible beach erosion.
Governments Are Racing to Prepare
Some coastal towns in Massachusetts have already issued evacuation advisories for those living along the shoreline in anticipation of the extreme storm surge. Some schools in Virginia closed early on Thursday and were completely cancelled on Friday in preparation for the storm. In New York, Mayor Eric Adams is expected to hold a press conference about the city’s storm preparation measures later Friday afternoon.
Flights have been cancelled in all three of New York’s major metro area airports, and more than 400 flights were cancelled out of Boston’s Logan airport. Utilities are also gearing up for widespread power outages due to the heavy snow and high winds. That also means you should be gearing up for them as well if you live anywhere in the nor’easter’s path.